19 Hard Life Lessons I Learned in 2019
There’s something everso hopeful about the dawn of a new year – a new decade. Filled with renewed hopes and dreams, we desperately try to leave the struggles and misfortunes of the past year behind; sometimes, forgetting to realise that these are the events that shape us, elevate us.
2019 has been a year of growth and clarity for us. Not just with Hangry By Nature, but also on a personal and more spiritual level. It’s been a great year. A year of family reunions, a year filled with opportunities and experiences I would never have dreamed of.
But, it was also a year riddled with tragedies.
We said a lot of goodbyes this year. The forever kind of goodbyes.
As hard as those goodbyes were, they also brought clarity. Clarity that we made the right choice. Two years ago, we strayed from the conventional path in life. You know, the one that society expects us to go down. It was both terrifying and liberating at the same time. But, it allowed us to be free. It allowed us to be with family in dark times and helped grow our hearts and minds.
1. Stay in touch
As life progressed and I became engrossed with making something of myself, I started coming up with the excuse that I was always “too busy”. I was investing all of the free time that I had when I wasn’t with the kids into creating content.
I became out of touch. With family. With friends. It’s hard to balance when you’re in the space of growing something, but I need to constantly remind myself how important it is, because as amazing as 2019 was, it was also a year of regrets. All because I was out of touch.
I wish I had spared the time to have one last conversation with my cousin before she fell into a coma that she would never return from. I wish I had spared the time to say a proper goodbye to my four legged soulmate and told him that I was coming back home soon. I wish I had facetime’d my great aunt one last time before she left this Earth.
2. To attain everything you ever wanted, first, you must let go
When I first read this quote somewhere, I was like, “huh?”. That’s surely a paradox, right? How could you possibly attain what you want if you let it go?
Then I realised that it wasn’t about letting go of my dream, it was about letting go of everything around me that served as an impediment. Material desires. Mental clutter. Things that made me comfortable. Even some of the things that gave me joy. Once I let go of those, my vision became clearer. My dream became far more attainable.
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3. Mindfulness is a hard thing to learn
My biggest downfall has always been my lack of mindfulness. I completed tasks hastily and without second thought. Do I get called out for it? Hell, f*cking, yeah. I do. If I had been more mindful and patient, things would probably have taken a different turn.
Learning to be mindful of my own actions and how it affects everything and everyone around me is going to be a lifelong practice. I used to think that mindfulness was just spiritual bullsh*t (that’s legit how unmindful I was), but I’m starting to notice that life takes a positive turn when I’m conscious of the consequences of my own actions and actively remember to be mindful for the sake of myself and others.
4. Health in the body lies in health of the mind
It’s not just about eating healthy, it’s about thinking healthy. In my years of listening to Ajahn Kalyano talk at the Bodhivana Monastery, he always emphasised that a healthy body comes from a healthy mind. Our thoughts control our bodies. If we steer towards darkness and let stress and negative thoughts consume us, it reflects in our physical health.
5. Money is the root of all evil
Too little and we can’t live a fulfilled life. Too much and it’s never enough. The challenge is finding that middle ground, or once again, the perfect balance where we can find contentment. It comes down to not wanting too much but having enough to live a stable life where we can still pursue our passions and help friends and family when in need.
I’ve seen money turn families against each other. I’ve seen money break up relationships. I’ve seen money create fake love. I’ve seen money destroy the upbringing of children. Personally, I don’t f*cking like money. But the contradiction lies in the fact that we could all use more of it, right? Damn, money is the devil.
6. Nothing in life is permanent
My mum raised me as a Buddhist, so naturally, the teachings of Buddha seeped into my life. The very first tattoo I got on my arm after my first real heartbreak reads ‘Anicca’ in Sanskrit. People who could read Sanskrit always asked me if that was my name. I said, “Nope, the douchebag that broke my heart inspired me to get it. It means nothing in life is permanent”. Pain, success, failures, heartbreak.. they’re all temporary. Just as we are.
In 2019, this Buddhist/Hindu teaching resonated even more after the passing of loved ones in my family. There’s no such thing as the waiting for the ‘right time’. If you want something – take action now. The moments in which we’re alive right now are all that’s guaranteed. Well, yeah, that and death and taxes.
7. The fear of returning to an office job keeps the fire burning
I’ve learnt to look at the bright side of fear. As much as fear can paralyse us and cause us to retreat into our shells, it’s actually the one thing that’s drives us harder. Fear keeps us alive and it propels us into achieving things.
The fear of returning to a 9-5 job has kept the fire burning for us. So, embrace your fears and use them as fuel to add to the fire.
8. Paving an unconventional path in life is hard
Heck, anything in life worth having comes with one hell of a challenge, right? Kids included. It’s not the making money part that is hard because once you’ve figured it out, you know exactly what you have to do to make more of it. It’s the ‘figuring it out’ part.
It’s the doubt that creeps up and consumes you. Doubt in yourself. Doubt in your capabilities. Others that doubt your path in life. It’s staying in the game and persevering while everything seems to be going up sh*t creek.
Here’s the thing though – the hardest obstacle you have to face in life is yourself. Once you ‘overcome’ yourself, anything becomes possible. 2019 was all about overcoming myself.
9. Patience is key
It’s taken me much longer than most bloggers to figure sh*t out and find clarity and purpose. Four long years at that. Like most people, I sought instant success.
What I didn’t realise was how much of a learning curve it was going to be. How much self-development it would take to get me there. How many kicks in the butt I needed to set me straight. Most of all, just how much I needed to learn. That sh*t doesn’t just materialise overnight.
Through it all, I learnt to not give up, but instead, to give it time.
10. In order to rise, one needs to fall
We’ve experienced more failures than I can count in our years of blogging and content creation (I’m probably to blame for most of them) but what’s kept us going is our refusal to give up. We like to see falling as bringing us closer to success. Each time we fall, our knees become more padded and the quicker we are to rise again. Well, until we get ACL. Then we’re f*cked.
Moral of the story? It gets easier the more times you fall.
11. Lack of focus was my biggest demise
It took years to finally come to my senses and realise that our blog is the key to blogging success. I mean, f*cking duh, right? The reality is that I get easily sidetracked. I literally have the attention span of Dory.
I led myself to believe that I was a terrible writer stricken with perpetual writer’s block. That stopped me from writing blog posts for months on end. Instead, I was doing stuff that I enjoyed, like, editing videos for Instagram Stories and spending my time and energy growing Instagram followers and engagement. I clearly lacked sight of the bigger picture and injected my time and energy into the wrong platform.
Then, Andy smacked some sense into me and gave me the pep talk of my life. Learning to prioritise and focusing on one task at a time has helped navigate me out of my pit of failure.
12. Social media can screw you over
Despite all the successful bloggers preaching that the key to succeeding in this industry is consistently writing valuable and informative blog posts and not to focus on social media, I decided I wouldn’t heed their advice. Instead, I spent years building up our social media platforms because of vanity metrics. Because numbers on Instagram equate to collabs, right?
Little did I know that managing social media accounts is a full-time job within itself and when it comes to blogging, almost everyone I know falls into the Instagram trap before realising that it’s not sustainable in the long run.
Sometimes you just gotta go through it to come to the realisation yourself. I’m a prime example of this. 2019 was about scaling back on social media and focusing on aspects of blogging and content creation that really mattered to create a sustainable future for ourselves.
13. It’s not about the numbers
It’s about the value you can provide for others and how you can enrich their lives. I mentioned that mindfulness is a hard thing to learn, well, altruism is even harder.
When I first started blogging, all I wanted was to make a name for myself and make a living online. As our brand and content grew, we started getting messages from readers and viewers reaching out to us on different platforms simply to thank us for the valuable information we provided. I was blown away. We were actually helping people.
That’s when I realised that when you get into a business for the sake of enriching someone else’s life and not just your own, you rise even higher. That being said, it’s not easy to disregard the numbers. In this industry, it’s all about the numbers. It’s become a continuous practice to adjust my thoughts and think beyond that.
How do we survive travelling with kids? It’s all about the gear. Take a look at our travel store to see our collection of travel essentials.
14. The future of content is video
We took so long to figure out what direction to take our YouTube channel. I wanted to vlog. Andy told me he hated ‘day in the life’ style vlogs because they provide no value and people will only watch if you’re immensely funny or if you’re already a celebrity. I was neither, so.. the channel became idle for 6 months until we revived it again in 2019 with useful, fun and informative family-friendly content.
A part of me regrets the downtime we had because I know that if I had just maintained a consisten direction with our content, consistently produced videos and detracted from social media – we’d be much further ahead on our YouTube journey. But hey, it’s all part of the learning curve.
Take a look below at a recent video Andy put together highlighting our travels in 2019. This guy learned the ins and outs of videography within 2 years, I mean, he came from a background of spreadsheets and data. He’s living proof that if you put your mind to something, you can achieve anything. So, here’s to the future of video.
15. Never assume what others may be thinking
Growing up, I always had more of a pessimistic outlook on certain aspects of life. My motto in life was, “expect the worst so that the actual outcome isn’t as bad as it seems”. This was my attitude and mindset for exams, job interviews and even dating. I was always anticipating the worst possible outcome. Why? So that I’d surprise myself when the outcome was actually better than expected. I didn’t want to deal with the full blow of feeling crushed.
Andy taught me that it was okay to feel disappointed by failure. At the same time, he taught me to never assume what others are thinking because no one can bloody read minds. Don’t give into personal assumptions. The amount of times I ‘assumed’ that a business wasn’t interested in working with us and then it ended up being a ‘yes, we want to work with you!’ took me by pleasant surprise.
16. It pays to finish what you started
I had a healer read the lines in the palm of my hands in Bali once and (no joke) he legit grimaced the moment he opened up my hands. He literally ugly face’d me. Mangku was his name.
Mangku gazed into my eyes and uttered words I would never forget. He said, “you’ll never accomplish anything in life if you don’t begin to finish things that you started.” That one sentence changed the course of my future because what Mangku told me was the absolute truth. I hardly ever saw things through. A complete f*cking stranger just told me what kind of person I was and that sh*t had an impact.
Since that day, I committed myself to finishing what I started because done is better than perfect.
17. The ability to be with family is everything
I chose this path in life because some of my closest family members live half a world away. I was only able to see my dad and sister every few years when I would have enough money and annual leave saved for an extended trip to Germany.
That’s not how I wanted to live my life.
I didn’t want to miss out on being with some of my favourite people on this planet. For most of my adult life, I sought a way to establish a business that would allow me to live between the two countries and divide my time between loved ones in Australia and Germany.
Thanks to blogging and technology – this is now possible. We were able to spend a quarter of 2019 in Germany with my family and it was everything.
18. Giving up is the greatest failure
When all looked to be lost with Hangry By Nature, I looked back at all the business endeavours I had already given up on in the past and blamed them on failure (when it was really me who failed them) – I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to add another one to the list. Hell naw. Not this one.
The greatest thing I learnt in 2019 is that if you’re consistent, passionate and continuously learning from failures and successes, things tend to grow and flourish.
19. Most of all, life is what we make it. We all have a choice.
Sometimes it’s hard to see our choices when it seems like there are none. In 2019, I learnt that *prepare yourself for cheesiness* the sky is the limit. But, it doesn’t come easy because you have to give up on certain comforts and material wants to make your dreams come true.
Most of our lack of choices boil down to the fact that we’re unwilling to give up the quality of our modern lives. We all reach a point where we question whether what we’re doing in life is actually making us happy.
If it’s not, well.. change is only one decision away.
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